The state of Illinois goes smoke-free, as its governor signs a statewide ban into law (Monday). Is Wisconsin next?
Well, our governor wouldn't mind signing a similar law in our state. In fact, Governor Doyle is calling on our Legislature to act immediately to make Wisconsin smoke free. He says, "it's only a matter of time before the whole country goes smoke free." Smoke Free Wisconsin Executive Director Maureen Busalacchi agrees with the governor.
"Well, congratulations to Illinois. They are the 22nd state to enact a state law making all bars and restaurants 100% smoke free. It would be terrific if we could soon make an announcement that Wisconsin is gonna do the same thing."
Busalacchi says a statewide smoking ban is good for everyone's health and for the economy, and it's better than sporadic county bans. The Tavern League of Wisconsin maintains such a ban could hurt the bottom line of many small business owners. Some businesses had concerns that customers would cross the border to go where smoking is allowed, but now that both Illinois and Minnesota make it illegal to smoke in public places, that won't be an issue. Busalacchi says a ban here would help Wisconsin businesses.
"If I were on the border I would be concerned that I would be losing customers going to smoke-free Illinois or going to smoke-free Minnesota. So hopefully our legislature will act quickly as well."
Already 22 states make it illegal to smoke in public places, including big states like New York and California. The law in neighboring Minnesota (signed May 16th) takes effect October 1st, 2007 and the law in Illinois takes effect January 1, 2008.